Friday, February 8, 2019

Weekend Design Challenge 020819 - Faction Ascendency

Hey, Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge, submissions due Monday morning. Every submission warrants feedback, so after you've come up with your idea, tell people what you like or dislike about theirs. Also listen to what they had to say about your card, and armed with that critique, revise your submission any number of times. I haven't been the best about reviewing recently, but I will attempt to review the most recent submission from each designer sometime at the beginning of next week.

When Ravnica Allegiance previews started and I saw Simic Ascendancy, I was thrilled at the prospect of a half cycle of Ascendancies. Then it turned out it was a one-off. Maro has talked about how they can't monopolize naming conventions like Ascendancy, but making it a rare enchantment showed off during previews, in a faction set in a setting notorious for its cycles, might have been a tad shortsighted. I digress.

This week's challenge is to pick a faction (defined as loosely as you like) from Magic, and design a rare enchantment card for that faction with the cardname [FACTION] Ascendancy. Simic and the Tarkir wedges are off-limits.

Good luck, have fun, and I'll see you all next week!

49 comments:

  1. Naya Ascendancy [R][G][W]

    Enchantment (R)

    Creatures you control get +1/+1.
    [1][R][G][W], Discard your hand: Draw a number of cards equal to the greatest power among creatures you control.

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    1. I really like that. I get the feeling it might be easily breakable, but I'd love to playtest it. I really love the way that red's Wheel of Fortune-esque discard/draw pairs with Green's Soul's Majesty style creature draw. Would having this anthem for +2/+2 be too much? This card has a lot of knobs to play with, and I am here for it.

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    2. This combination of abilities is confusing. Do I get to count the +1/+1 from this when drawing cards?

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    3. You count the +1/+1 effect and any other that change your creatures powers. the highest power after doing that is how many cards you'll draw.

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  2. Going the tribal route!

    Brazen Ascendancy UBR
    Enchantment (Rare)
    Your pirate spells have flash.
    Whenever you cast a pirate spell, you may gain control of target creature with power of 2 or less until the end of the turn. It gains haste until the end of the turn. Untap it.

    (For me, the idea of the pirates gaining ascendancy means they've been compelling enough to inspire all the rabble to join them on raids against the vampires and the merfolk or whatever)

    Also, as an aside, it's amusing to look at Sultai Ascendancy as a rare card and compare it to surveil in Guilds of Ravnica.

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    1. Since the ability doesn't specify creatures your opponent controls, this means you can use it to target one of your manadorks, untap them, use them to cast another pirate, etc.

      Is that intended? Not that I see it being a busted combo, since no mana dorks are pirates and it requires you to play some 4c abomination. Still, hidden combo potential there.

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    2. That's not intended. For some reason I thought the rules for gaining control of a permanent inherently required it to be controlled by another player. Actually I guess it should say "defending player controls" for multiplayer purposes.

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    3. Act of Treason effects are generally at sorcery speed to prevent excessive 2-for-1s.
      Limiting it to defending player solves that slightly, but then you can never attack with the things you steal.

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    4. Yeah you can aim a gain control effect at a permanent you already control. Zealous Conscripts for example's a combo piece in some cubes. Kiki-Jiki plus Zealous Conscripts is infinite attackers for example.

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    5. I ... don't know why I said "defending player controls." (I think an early version I was brainstorming had a raid trigger on there and I forgot I removed it.) It could just be "opponent controls." Or it might not even really need that. Just because there's a potential weird combo doesn't necessarily mean I have to solve for it.

      As for the instant vs. sorcery, that is indeed intentional. This makes you jump through enough hoops (pirates + three color + power of two or less) that I don't think it's oppressive. It does make me wonder why this concern is how Adm. Beckett Brass ended up stone-cold unplayable.

      It may be that this is a mythic, not a rare. We could remove the flash off the pirates if it's too strong.

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    6. I like the base idea a lot, though it does seem dependent on the opponent playing low power creatures. I guess giving pirates flash is already pretty good, but one thought is to do this:

      Whenever you cast a Pirate spell, you may have target creature an opponent controls get -2/-0 until end of turn. Then, if it has 2 or less power, untap it and gain control of it until end of turn. It gains haste until end of turn.

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    7. Does giving pirates flash make sense with their primary mechanic, Raid, wanted to be played post combat main? There are a handful of raid rewards that make a difference in the combat step, but this card really wants to play creatures in response to an attack, not during one.

      I honestly think that this could have gone bigger with the effect. Flashing in the pirate and stealing another creature is nice, but it does read as a little weak. I like the distribution of colors here (UB for flash, R for Act of Treason, but this needs a solid revision for it to feel like it meshes with existing Pirate cards and the tribal strategy overall.

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    8. If you play a pirate with raid during your own combat after declaring attackers (thanks to flash) its ETB effect can impact the outcome. Visualize this with the Dead-Eye Rig-Hauler or the Storm Fleet Pyromancer. In that case, the steal effect becomes less impactful. But I actually like the idea that the strategy of using it changes based on whether you're attacking or defending.

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  3. Trying to figure out if this should cost 2 or 3. My instinct is that 2 is fine, if strong, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Orzhov Ascendancy WB
    Enchantment (R)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, you gain 1 life.
    Whenever a creature an opponent controls attacks or blocks, that player loses 1 life unless they pay {1}.

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    1. So fun. Could you mirror the abilities? Whenever an opponent's creature attacks lose 1 unless they pay 1, you gain 1 unless they pay 1? So they have to pay 2 to avoid the penalty, Ghostly Prison style, and the life taxing is more symmetrical. At that point it would need to cost more, likely 3 or 4.

      Either way, solid entry. Definitely captures Orzhov in a good way.

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  4. Esport Ascendancy WUB
    Enchantment
    Creatures you control are artifacts in addition to their other types. The same is true for creature cards in your hand, library and graveyard.
    The first time an artifact is put into your graveyard from the battlefield each turn, you may return another artifact card from your graveyard to your hand.

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    1. Amusing typo, given Magic news today!

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    2. Could this say ¨creature cards you own in all other zones¨ so it works in exile and the command zone? No existing cards refer to zones like this but once you understand what the zones are this doesn't feel too hard to comprehend.

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    3. I think Mycosynth Lattice has the templating we're aiming for with this one.

      So a one-sided lattice, and some Scrap Trawler tech. This seems like it has the potential to be very broken. The once-per-turn limitation is an important safety valve, but one that is going to kill the appeal for many players. It's still strong, but far less appealing to people who have dreams of infinite combos. Exiling the dying artifact to recover is an alternative, one that doesn't dump as many artifacts in your GY necessarily, but that lets you do degenerate things with treasure and clues. Either way, very cool and Espery.

      My one last gripe is one that can't really be addressed within the limitations of the challenge, but if this was printed in Alara block, it would be an artifact, not an Enchantment.

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    4. the problem I had with Mycosynth Lattice text is it would effect cards you own and your opponents control. There is no need for this to not be the case I was trying not to do it. Could also say "own or control" so it affects what you steal.

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  5. Azorius Ascendancy UW
    Enchantment (R)
    Spells you cast cost 1 less to cast.
    Whenever you cast a spell turning your turn turn, you gain 1 life.
    Whenever you cast a spell during another players turn, tap target nonland permanent.

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    1. This is a powerful mana rock in colours that dont normally get it coupled with two cool abilities with the second being far stronger incouraging instant speed play, nice. The second might be a bit opressive in a control deck (which would probably play the ramp spell already) but seems worth trying.
      It may want to cost one more just for the cost reduction but starting it at two seems good.

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    2. That does feel very Azorius (although I would argue that having your opponent's stuff cost 1 more instead of yours 1 less is more in flavor). While the latter abilities are kind of connected, there is a some lack of cohesion going on here. I'd want more mirroring going on between the last two abilities, and maybe some additional parallels in the first ability (1 less during your opponents turns?) Very interesting concept and a strong first draft.

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  6. Gathering Mists Ascendancy UUU
    Enchantment (R)
    Whenever you cast a blue spell, up to one target creature gains hexproof until end of turn.
    Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to an opponent, you may draw a card. If you do, discard a card.

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    1. This is probably too strong, but I figured why not start scary and work downwards?

      I built this with my Mono-Blue Aggro deck in mind. I wanted to emphasize my favorite side of Mono-Blue, and make a card that would play well with its inspiration, Paragon of Gathering Mists.

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    2. I doubt this is too strong? The mono blue aggro deck in Standard at the moment has several comparable 3 drops at the moment - Tempest Djinn, Dovin Baan, and pirate Jace. The second ability is the same as pirate Jace, so perfectly fine.
      The first ability is interesting, but needs the correct supporting cast. If all your instants are counters/protection anyway then this probably doesn't matter! Add in some flash creatures, bounce, or card draw and it can start doing something.

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    3. I guess those are implied factions, so sure, why not? As factions, they're pretty ill-defined mechanically, other than liking their own colors, but that doesn't exactly give you a whole lot to work with.

      I like Zachariah's comment about the kinds of cards you want to play to trigger the hexproof - Instant and flash cards that aren't already protecting your creatures are a relatively small subset of spells. Still, it could be interesting - but it doesn't really help further define what this faction is all about. This is a cool standalone enchantment, but if we're going to imply a faction out of it, I wish it had much less generic abilities and more to suggest what the faction does that makes me want to play it over any other faction.

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    4. That's a great point, zefferal. Wise critique!

      And thanks Zachariah for the insight. You're completely right!

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  7. Bant Ascendancy WUG
    Enchantment (r)
    Creature spells you cast have convoke.
    Tapped creatures you control have exalted.
    Your creatures can help you win this battle.

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    1. Convoke for bant is interesting. Blue got one convoke card Chief Engineer while black got 4 and red 2 I don't know of any reason blue shouldn't have convoke and as this is 3 color I think your fine. It is interesting to note anyway.

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    2. Taken alone, putting convoke in blue can be dangerous because letting blue tap creatures to cast larger creatures really undercuts one of its weaknesses of being slow to get larger bodies out.

      But attaching it to Bant and forcing it into a tricolor combination makes it much less of a blue bend or break. Green historically helps blue ramp anyway when the two colors play together. The ingeniousness of this card is that it means you don't need to give blue creatures themselves convoke.

      I do wonder if this is mythic though.

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    3. First of all, I love the flavor text.

      I also love the card. I wonder if convoking into creatures might end up being a little too degenerate in constructed - Noble Heirarch is an unassuming powerhouse, and this puts all of your 1 drops roughly on par with it. Convoke doesn't care about summoning sickness, so with the right build you can chain together a bunch of 1 drops on turn 2. It looks like a ton of fun to break, or at least let Jenny have a field day with.

      What if it gave noncreatures convoke instead? It makes deck construction more interesting and varied. I'd like to try both ways to see if one feels particularly more Bant than the other. Either way, great submission.

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  8. I set out to make a Phyrexian Ascendancy since the Phyrexians are my favourite villains, eventually settling on:

    Phyrexian Ascendancy {B/P}{B/P}{B/P}{B/P}
    Enchantment (R)
    ({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life)
    Whenever you pay life, put a compleation Counter on ~.
    {B/P}, Remove three compleation counters from ~: Put three -1/-1 counter on target creature.
    {B/P}, Remove five compleation counters from ~: Put target creature card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control.

    And then I realized just how dangerous Phyrexian mana really is or can be, imagining Death's Shadow paying 8 life to drop this turn 1 into cycle street wraith, fetch, shock potentially getting 3 counters on this and a DS in play turn 1. Turns out life payment is already powerful and doesn't need help. (Or maybe I'm dead wrong and my design's unplayable garbage, can't rule that out)

    Which brings me to my second attempt at a Phyrexian Ascendancy in which I avoid both Phyrexian mana and the sweet call of Infect. Which leaves another sweet mechanic, proliferate!

    Phyrexian Ascendancy BBB
    Whenever a creature you control dies, put a -1/-1 counter on target creature an opponent controls.
    Whenever a creature an opponent controls dies, its controller loses 1 life.
    1B, sacrifice a creature: Proliferate.
    Flavor text: Death is no obstacle to the prophets of Phyrexia.

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    1. Oh! If you use the activated ability, you can trigger the -1/-1 before the proliferate, right? That makes sense. This certainly makes your opponents not want to put creatures on the board.

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    2. Very interesting and cool. Pasteur highlighted the trigger that happens off the activation cost - which is cool, but also somewhat unintuitive for newer players. That's the first big critique I have here, but it ties into the second. This is a very fun, and very self-contained combo piece. These kinds of cards really shine when they make you do a little more work than providing all of their own solutions. All this card asks is for you to provide the creatures and some nominal amount of mana, and it will do the rest.

      I suggest cutting the activated ability, and tacking the proliferate onto the first triggered ability: Whenever a creature you control dies, put a -1/-1 counter on target creature an opponent controls, then proliferate.

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  9. Explosioneer Ascendancy
    2RG
    Enchantment (Rare)
    Whenever you would roll a die, instead roll two of those dice and use their sum.
    Goblins you control have tromple. (Whenever a Goblin you control deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.)

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    1. cool card, does the first want to be a may, for the ability to interact with the current difference cards (you can roll one as a single and one as a double).

      Can we make tromple interact with dice rolling?
      not sure how though.

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    2. I'm taking my cue from the Khans Ascendancies, which don't always connect their effects.

      The Goblin Explosioneers don't understand why rolling two dice would be a "may". Rolling two dice is more than rolling one, so it's better, right? :-)

      In all seriousness, I'm okay with the "difference" cards getting incrementally but not radically better. Though maybe this should just cost 1RG given its narrowness.

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    3. Tromple. That brings back some memories. It might be a little too inside-baseball to land as a joke in an unset, but it got a chuckle out of me.

      Also, it never dawned on me that someone would use the Unstable factions.

      It is missing a little bit of cohesion, but I'll buy the Khan-style argument. My bigger concern is that die-rolling-matters was really more of a squirrel thing than an Explosioneer thing, though there was a fair amount of overlap. But specifically calling out the mechanic for the RG faction instead of the BG one seems a little wrong somehow. Still a fun and cute card that would do our hammer-obsessed Riggers proud.

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  10. Eldrazi Ascendancy 5
    Enchantment
    Colourless spells you cast cost 2 less to cast
    You may look at the top card of your library
    You may play the top card of your library if it is colourless.

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    1. It's a cool and exciting card. I just have two quibbles.

      1. Too much of an artifact-storm enabler as it stands. Maybe add a "creature" or "Eldrazi" condition to the first ability?

      2. The second and third abilities don't feel quite transgressive enough to be Eldrazi-themed. Maybe it exiles the cards it lets you cast somehow?

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    2. The first ability was keeping to the theme of eldrazi cards being dangerous and broken some how :P. Non-Artifact could work.

      At the begining of your upkeep you may exile a card from your sideboard
      You may play [optional now::colourless] cards exiled with ~.

      Eldrazi Ascendancy 5
      Enchantment
      Non-artifact Colourless spells you cast cost 2 less to cast
      At the begining of your upkeep you may exile a card from your sideboard
      You may play [optional now::colourless] cards exiled with ~.

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    3. I recall someone pitching sideboard matters as an Eldrazi theme here once a while back, and I am on board with it. Given the normal limits on sideboard size, I might merge the second and third abilities to "You may cast up to one colo[u]rless card from your sideboard during your turn." Might need some template massaging, but that would be the gist.

      I'm not in love with "non-artifact colorless." Maybe colorless creatures, instants, and sorceries" or some other limited spell type list? The concern over degenerate things happening with artifacts in the mix is legit, but explicitly excluding artifacts just reads wrong.

      Very fun submission.

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  11. Kher Ascendancy {0}
    Enchantment
    Whenever a red creature you control attacks, you may pay {R}. If you do, put a Keep counter on Kher Ascendancy.
    Attacking red creatures you control get +1/+0 for every three Keep counters on Kher Ascendancy.

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    1. wait, maybe this isn't 'rare' enough? who knows

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    2. I assume you want to include "Kher Ascendancy is red."

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    3. Yeah, that's a good one to include!

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    4. That's interesting. I have genuinely no idea if that's fun. It's weak, but free? That seems enough to justify it's rareness, but if Kobolds are a draft archetype in its set, it's more likely uncommon. Should the attack clause be limited to attacking kobolds rather than red creatures, just to drive its niche-ness home.

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